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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 8:14 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Anne-Marie Trevelyan Anne-Marie Trevelyan Conservative, Berwick-upon-Tweed 8:14 pm, 21st June 2017

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. We need to look at this in the round. I hope that the shipbuilding strategy that we are expecting to come out from the Department very shortly will set forward that vision. We need to make sure that we here in Parliament are supporting the Department in ensuring that it can get the funding it needs—long-term, stable funding for that shipbuilding programme.

For this to become a reality, we have much yet to do. Most of the work on the armed forces covenant is not the Government’s job but the job of all of us as leaders, as businesses, as community groups and charities. We must, as a nation, really commit to our covenant to the men and women who choose to serve in our armed forces. It is for all of us to make clear our respect and gratitude, not only, though importantly, by buying a poppy or two for remembrance, but by learning to value the exceptional skill sets that these people have—self-discipline and resilience, technical expertise, and ability to cope under pressure—and recognising that military spouses and children also have extraordinary strength of character. It can never be possible to really understand what it must be like to be a nuclear submariner’s spouse or child, their partner or parent away for three months or more, completely out of contact, with absolutely no idea where they are on the planet. These military families, whose devotion sustains our serving personnel in the Army, the Navy, our great Royal Marines, and the RAF are extraordinary people.

Our armed forces, and indeed all those across our emergency services who put their lives on the line every day for all of us, deserve our respect and gratitude. They should know that our commitment to the covenant is not just words but a determination across every Government Department, a commitment in every business across the UK, and a demonstration of our belief in it, as citizens of this great country of ours. They should know that they can rely on us to support them when their service lives need it, and that all veterans and their families, from every corner of our four nations, are able to lead fulfilling lives as civilians after they have served. I shall encourage the Government to consider creating, as we are doing in the draft domestic violence and abuse Bill, an armed forces covenant commissioner to give the oversight and encouragement to achieve these goals.

There is much to do to deliver Brexit and to deliver on our commitment to the armed forces covenant. I am very proud to be able to offer my service, as my constituents have so clearly asked me to do, in the months and years ahead.